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New Phytol. 2007;175(4):773-84.

Evolutionary ecology of resistance to herbivory: an investigation of potential genetic constraints in the multiple-herbivore community of Solanum carolinense.

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Department of Biology, Box 90338 Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA.


As part of a study of the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of herbivore resistance in Solanum carolinense (horsenettle), potential genetic constraints to the evolution of resistance to 11 of its most common herbivores were investigated. Leaf, flower, fruit, and stem herbivory were measured in a field experiment involving 24 ramets of each of 40 horsenettle genets. The experimental plant population contained significant genetic variation for resistance to all 11 species of herbivore. For only one species was there an indication of a genotype-by-environment interaction in the expression of resistance that might constrain its evolution. Genetic correlations in resistance to different species were common but not universal, with seven negative and 12 positive correlations out of the 55 pairwise species comparisons. Correlations were independent of plant part fed upon. The evolution of the resistance of horsenettle to most of its diverse community of herbivores does not appear to be prevented by a lack of genetic variation or by genotype-by-environment interactions in resistance. Negative genetic correlations in resistance to different herbivores may play a small role in slowing the evolution of resistance, but positive correlations may play at least as large a role in facilitating its evolution.

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